Tsuwano is one of several towns across Japan nicknamed "Small Kyoto". The reason for the comparison is Tsuwano's old town which features several preserved historic buildings and retains an atmosphere reminiscent of past centuries. The highlight is the Tonomachi district where one street block of the former samurai district is particularly nicely preserved with earthen walls, historic buildings and a water canal filled with carps.

The adjacent former merchant district, which lies between Tsuwano Station and the Tonomachi District, is not quite as meticulously groomed and preserved as the Tonomachi district, but it, too, contains quite a few old fashioned buildings and facades, including some sake shops and a few museums of interest.

Hanko Yorokan

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 100 yen
Typical visit duration: 20 minutes
Hanko Yorokan was constructed in 1786 as the town's education facility. Subjects taught included Confucianism, military science, archery, horse riding and weapon techniques. Today, part of the building is open to public as a folk museum which contains exhibits relating to Tsuwano and its people.

Tsuwano Catholic Church

Hours: 8:00 to 17:30 (until 17:00 from November to March)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
Typical visit duration: 10 minutes
This church was built in 1931 by a Catholic priest from Germany. It is quite unique for featuring tatami mats instead of pews. Next to the church stands a small museum with exhibits related to the story of the Christians who were persecuted in Tsuwano during the early Meiji Period. English information is not provided.

Morijuku Art Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (Mar to Nov), 9:30 to 16:30 (December to Feb)
Closed: Monday to Thursday, New Year holidays
Admission: Free
Typical visit duration: 30 minutes
This approximately 150 year old building is the former residence of the local town head, renovated and opened as an art museum. Visitors can explore the historic house and view its interesting interior design. A section of the house is designated as art space, exhibiting Western style paintings by two local artists.

Anno Art Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:45)
Closed: Thursdays and December 29-31
Admission: 800 yen
Typical visit duration: 30 minutes
This museum across the street from the station is dedicated to the local illustrator Anno Mitsumasa, who specializes in picture books and children's books. The museum displays rotating exhibitions of Anno's works and features a library of his books and a classroom with nostalgic interior decor from the Showa Period.

Getting there and around

The old town lies just southeast of Tsuwano Station. The Tonomachi district can be reached from the station in a ten minute walk.

How to get to and around Tsuwano